Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger

by Rain for the Sahel and Sahara
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Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Elementary School Girls in Erisn Tagba
Elementary School Girls in Erisn Tagba

RAIN is expanding into the commune of Danat, where we're targeting 5 elementary schools and a middle school in Tchizamene, Fichet, Erisn Tagba, Jikat, Danat Village, and RTA. A team of RAIN Field Agents recently held community meetings to launch programming in each of these villages. 

The roads were so bad, trucks, cars, and motos alike opted to drive in the dust and sand alongside the road, rather than risk the potholes. The potholes were so large, you could barely make out that there was supposed to be a road connecting them to one another. Less than 100 miles (160km), it took more than 5 hours of off-roading to reach Tchizamene from Agadez City. But at the end of the road, we found a lovely schoolhouse where children in grades CP to CM2 (US 1st-5th grades, apprx 6-11 years old) gathered. 

Over the next few days, we met with students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and local leaders; they laid out their hopes and lamented the mounting obstacles their children had to overcome each day. They talked about a government that let them down and non-profit organizations that never came back.

As the adults spoke, I observed their little ones – too young to understand their parents’ fears. They giggled, tickled each other, and shared makeshift toys. It would be easy to see their playfulness as youthful naivete. Their parents are right that there are many obstacles… but every child has a world of potential in them – and that potential should not be snuffed out just because they were born into circumstances where they have fewer opportunities. They’re young enough not to let those limitations stop them and with your support, RAIN offers the opportunity they need. It’s still not easy, but with hard work, there is a path out.

RAIN has big plans this year:

  • providing 114 rural children with room and board to attend middle school,
  • training local women to mentor 725 elementary and middle school students, and
  • offering free, daily after-school classes for over 1,500 girls and boys at rural middle schools. 

The concerns these parents shared are real but there is a way forward. We've seen students go through RAIN's program and go on to give back to their communities as teachers and nurses.

RAIN helps create that pipeline, and we hope you will continue to support this work so more children have the opportunity to beat the odds. 

Give today to support expansion into these 5 new partner communities - ensure these students have the support and resources they need to succeed. 

Elementary School in Tchizamene Village
Elementary School in Tchizamene Village
This is RAIN's first year working in Erisn Tagba
This is RAIN's first year working in Erisn Tagba
Girls play at Jikat's community education meeting
Girls play at Jikat's community education meeting

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Students enjoying some down time between classes.
Students enjoying some down time between classes.
Many children in Niger live in rural areas with no local middle school.  Imagine sending your 12-year-old daughter to school knowing she will have to walk over 4 miles to get there and another 4 to get home. It's no wonder so many students drop out.

With no local access to middle school, parents are often left with the choice to keep their children home after finishing elementary school or to send them away, unsupervised, to pursue their education in a larger city.

While we can't move families closer to school, RAIN's mentoring program addresses the obstacle of distance in other ways. Mentors help children with their studies, work with students and their families to better navigate the school system, conduct home visits to address absences, and provide safe spaces to engage with girls on sensitive topics, all while reinforcing the importance of education.

Hear from one of our mentees about how RAIN's mentoring program helped her stay in school, despite the distance.

"I am Fatima. I am 12 years old and I come from the village of Ankaf in the commune of Ingal. My house is 7 km from the school. My mentor's name is Mariama. She gives me wise advice.
I like the mentoring program, which allows me to study. The 
mentoring program has also helped me to improve my grades. It allowed me to be 6th in my class. Without the mentoring program, I could have given up because of the distance from our home to the school."

We can all use a bit of support to get us where we're going.  Your support enables young girls like Fatima to navigate paths to brighter futures.

We are grateful to donors like you who support RAIN's partner communities so generously.  As we've said, none of us can do it alone and we certainly could not do it without you.

Mentors from the village of Tabala
Mentors from the village of Tabala

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Between the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions, and struggling local economies, 2021 came with its fair share of challenges for children enrolled in RAIN's partner schools. But through these challenges, students were still able to accomplish amazing things in the 2021 school year. 

Here are some of the successes we saw in 2021:

 

  • 3,076 students enrolled at RAIN's partner schools, a 15% increase from last year
  • Mentored students had a pass rate of 86%, a 10% increase over all students enrolled in RAIN's partner schools
  • Mentored students experienced a 50% decrease in dropouts compared to all students enrolled in RAIN's partner schools

 

Mentors have also spent time working with whole classes throughout the school year in order to further improve enrollment and pass rates. The mentorship program has also begun to adapt to emerging needs with mentors providing additional support to students who are struggling most in school in any given period. 

Niger’s new president, Mohamed Bazoum, has highlighted the need for improved education for girls. He cited education as one of the country’s greatest weaknesses since independence and committed to increasing the education budget. Through our elementary and middle school education programs, RAIN aims to capitalize on President Bazoum’s commitment by forming strong partnerships with local parents, mentors, and communities to increase educational outcomes.

The systemic barriers that students, especially girls, in Niger face every day have resulted in less than 7% of adults and less than 5% of women having any secondary education.  By providing access to education and resources that help keep children in school, RAIN hopes to combat these barriers and build more resilient communities.  Your generous support is helping to build brighter outcomes for Niger's future women leaders.

You are changing the lives of both RAIN's mentors and mentees and for that we are exceedingly grateful.

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A major concern throughout Covid has been the increased risk of student dropouts. RAIN’s main protection against this was our mentorship program. Across the country, school closures due to the pandemic and record-breaking flooding, forced many students to drop out and many more to repeat a year of school. Local mentors were able to encourage mentored students to return despite these setbacks, thus helping them to build brighter and more stable futures. For RAIN’s mentored students the dropout rate was only 0.7%, compared to 3.6% of all students at RAIN’s partner middle schools – both of which were much lower than the regional average of 17% in non-partner schools.

In 2020-2021, 107 elementary and middle school mentors provided guidance and support for 535 students in our partner schools. Over the past five years, enrollment through our middle school pilot program has increased by a staggering 264%. Incredibly, enrollment for girls has increased 775%. This successful pilot in Aouderas led us to pilot the program in two additional communities this year - at the middle schools in Dabaga and Iferouane. In the coming year, we will expand to a fourth middle school in Ingall.

After school courses on practical skills are another integral part of RAIN's mentor training. Mentors not only motivate students to stay in school, they also teach important lessons including leadership skills, basic self-care, and traditional practices such as weaving and cooking.  This past year mentoring programs focused on teaching proper hygiene methods to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and keep COVID rates down in our partner schools and communities. Local hygiene trainings were held in 16 different communities, reaching 3,535 women, children, and family members. These extracurricular courses help round out each student's education to enable them to better care for themselves as they continue into adulthood.

Education is a key factor in long term success and RAIN believes that every student deserves the opportunity to attend and finish school.  We also understand that the supplemental classes we provide, can give students an added advantage while pursuing a career later in life.  Your contributions to this program help us equip mentors with the necessary training and resources to support students in every way possible.  The generosity of our donors strengthens not only RAIN's partnerships with the rural and nomadic peoples of Niger, but also the partnership between mentors and their mentees.

We are so appreciative for your belief in RAIN’s mission. Your continued support has made a pivotal difference in the lives of so many students and we cannot thank you enough.

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Staying in school means marrying later
Staying in school means marrying later

Hawa is a student in 4ieme (8th grade) in the Aouderas Middle School. In addition to working with a local woman mentor, Hawa receives free daily after-school classes to help her succeed academically. The program has helped Hawa and she's ranked 6th among the students in her year at school.

Below are her words about her experience with RAIN's Middle School Mentoring Program:

“I attended primary school in the village of Elmiki, where I was raised. My father was never home when I was growing up. He left on ‘exode’ to neighboring countries or he went looking for gold at mining sites. When I passed the exams at the end of the Primary School Cycle, I was admitted to the Aouderas Middle School.  

In the beginning [when I got to Aouderas], I was so discouraged I wanted to drop out of  school and return home – even if that meant making the long journey alone on foot or riding a donkey. Luckily, I was enrolled in RAIN’s mentoring program. With the support and guidance of my mentor, I was encouraged and motivated to continue my studies and to  succeed – even when it felt difficult. We benefited from the daily after school classes and our mentors met with us two or three times a week to guide us. I wouldn’t have gotten this  far without that support. Otherwise, I think a long time ago I would have dropped out and gone home – I’d be with the other girls my age in my village – not in school, or even married to some stranger. Instead, I’m in 4ieme with an average of 14,95 which puts me 6th  among the students in my year. I am grateful for the mentors and the professors at my  middle school. In turn, today I encourage my peers, the other girls in school, that they can also persevere to succeed.”

Thank you for ensuring Hawa has the chance to continue her education. We hope you'll continue to support this project so Hawa and girls like her have the support they need to persevere through their challenges. 

Please also consider asking a friend to join you by matching your gift - if everyone brings one friend along, we can raise twice as much and reach twice as many girls!

Don't hesitate to reach out with questions and if you want more RAIN updates, check our our website, newsletter, and social media pages.

With gratitude,

The RAIN Team

Mentors support academics AND life skills
Mentors support academics AND life skills

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Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @rain4sahara
Project Leader:
Freya Hoffman-Terry
Portsmouth, NH United States
$29,865 raised of $45,000 goal
 
504 donations
$15,135 to go
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